As most readers by now know, I am fascinated with old ghost towns. However, what I like even more is when I find an area that was previously in decay now coming back to life. Such is the case with the old Taylors Mill in downtown Taylors.
The phrase “downtown Taylor’s may not have much meaning to Greenvillians. Most think of Taylors as a nebulous area somewhere on the Eastside of town before you get to Greer. There is actually a downtown area, just off of Wade Hampton Boulevard, beyond Taylors First Baptist Church. There are a few storefronts, but the most prominent features are the old Taylors High School, now converted into a Fine Arts Academy and Presbyterian Theological Seminary, and the old Taylors Textile Mill.
I had visited the mill several times in the past to take photos of the abandoned structures. Now they are not so abandoned. The last time I drove through I’d noticed that some of the space was being converted to artist studios. This seems like the perfect place – lots of wide open inexpensive space. If I wanted to put together a photography studio for myself, this might be where I would want to locate.
What drew me to the mill today was a search for a coffee shop. Fellow photographer Fred Graham had posted several photos of Due South Coffee on his Facebook page recently, and I wanted to check it out. However, they didn’t make it easy to find. In the middle of the mill area is a striking section where an elevated crosswalk connects two portions of the building. Tucked back in there, around a corner, I found the place. This is a place you would never stumble upon – you can only get to it if you know it’s back there.
In a way this location makes sense, despite the remoteness. The owners started the endeavor as a high end coffee bean roaster/distributor. It started as a warehouse, and the coffee bar was added later. The place supplied specialized beans and coffee for restaurants in the area.
I walked in to find a large open space with the coffee bar on one side, several round tables, and a couple of couches. There were several people there this mid-morning.
I wasn’t sure what to get, so I went with my default caffe mocha. I watched the young barista make the drink, then took my seat at one of the round tables with a view out toward the mill.
The mocha was…OK. Just OK. I’ve had had better from Starbucks, McDonalds, and even some I’ve made myself. Since beans are their forte, what I SHOULD have done was ordered something that shows them at their best – one of the brewed coffees. Since they weren’t too busy, I decided to find out a bit more. The barista was willing to show me around.
The owners are Patrick McInerney and Ricardo Pereira. One of Laura’s students, Micah Sherer, is another barista, but he was not there today. Laura said she had seen him in class. The owners travel the world looking for beans, and these are roasted at this location.
In addition to the espresso drinks, Due South’s main drink is a pour-over coffee. They had a rig set up to make several cups at once.
One of the most unusual drinks was the siphon coffee system. Each rig has a heater and a round-bottom flask. Somehow the coffee evaporates into an upper chamber before dispensing. The result is a very clear, smooth cup of coffee. It looks interesting, but at seven bucks a cup, it better be the best coffee ever.
In addition to the coffee bar, Due South hosts events in its large space, and often has live music. I’m going to have to come back for one of these events, or, at the very least, to try one of the other coffees.
While I was at the old mill I decided to walk around a bit with my camera. For those interested in rust and decay, there are lots of opportunities for interesting shots.
The place is a riot of textures. I took lots of photos just of the sides of walls.
While these textures are interesting in and of themselves, they become powerful tools when combined with other images. For example, here’s a texture I shot from one of the walls at the mill:
I opened the file in Photoshop, then opened up up another file I had shot:
In the non-texture shot I converted it to black and white. I then copied the texture on top as an overlay. The tan portions of the texture bled through to make it look like an old photo, with parts of the image fading to sepia.
Back at the car I drove completely around the site once, then headed on, leaving the mill area. Since I was so close I dropped by the old Chick Springs area. The two remaining structures have not changed much. I did spot an old house on the hill overlooking the stream that I hadn’t seen before. I do wish they could develop this into a park before these structures deteriorate further.
It was a great morning out and about. I like the the revitalization I’m seeing. New housing developments are encroaching on this old community, but I’m glad that some of the old is being reused.
Here is the slide show of the photos I took this morning: